Thursday, March 28, 2013
Position-player preview with scout's take
By Adam Rubin
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Injuries have the Mets' roster somewhat in flux, but here is a review of the primary position players who should be coming north:
John Buck will serve as the No. 1 catcher until the Mets are ready to pass the torch to prospect Travis d'Arnaud, who will open the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. Buck, an All-Star in 2010, hit .192 with 12 homers in 343 at-bats last season with the Miami Marlins. Anthony Recker, a waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs, serves as the backup.
Scout's view: "Buck is a mentor. Isn't that kind of the intent? I see him and I think 'professional.'"
Ike Davis suffered fatigue as the result of Valley fever and also had limited lateral movement at the start of the 2012 season because of a lingering ankle injury suffered the previous May. This spring training, he has pep in his step and is making solid contact. If he can put together an entire season like last year's second half (.255, 20 homers), it should be a big year. Davis is hitting .333 in Grapefruit League play.
Scout's view: "Solid. It's a lot different than last year when he opened the season."
Daniel Murphy is due to get his first Grapefruit League at-bats Thursday, after a prolonged battle with an intercostal muscle strain on his right side that included a cortisone injection on Feb. 19 in New York. Terry Collins is eyeing three at-bats for Murphy, although no more than five innings at second base Thursday.
Scout's view: "A contact type of guy. His defensive play is a little better, but it's still not top notch."
David Wright had 10 RBIs in four World Baseball Classic games before being forced to withdraw with a strained intercostal muscle on his left side. He has started playing in minor league games this week and is optimistic he will be available Opening Day. Wright, dubbed "Captain America," also has been named captain of the Mets.
Scout's view: "He's the leader. How he goes, the Mets go. He's a pleasure to watch. That's what I always think when I see him. He's a professional."
After homering in his first Grapefruit League at-bat, Ruben Tejada has mightily struggled. He's hitting .061 (3-for-49) since that spring-training-opening long ball.
Scout's view: "He hasn't played well. I think his body is maturing and getting heavier. He's not moving as well. Then, at the plate, he hits a lot of balls in the air. I still like him, but would have some mild concern."
Left fielder Lucas Duda -- after early tinkering to his stance and striking out six times in his first seven at-bats -- has heated up. Duda is hitting .286 with five homers in Grapefruit League play. Righty-hitting Collin Cowgill and lefty hitters Jordany Valdespin and potentially Kirk Nieuwenhuis may have roles in center field. Marlon Byrd handles right field, with Mike Baxter able to chip in and serve as a lefty pinch hitter.
Scout's view: "I think Duda is going to have a decent season. He's got some experience in the big leagues now, so that should help. He's making more contact now. He used to have a lot of holes in his swing and he's worked at it. I'm pulling for the guy. He can hit them as far as anyone.
"I like Cowgill. He's an extra guy, but I like his energy. He and Valdespin, they both bring some energy to the lineup. Valdespin has tools, but can play out of control for me. But I like his skill set.
"Byrd gives you a veteran presence in the lineup. Good spring training. Resurrected himself."